The Luggage Brake project takes its place amongst the 'new builds' and conversions becoming common on Heritage Railways. A couple of years ago, it became clear that the completion of Taff Vale No 73 was drawing near. A great deal of time and money had already been invested in its restoration, and it became obvious that recovering some of this from revenue was highly desirable. However, as a single, four-wheel, vintage carriage with no guard's facilities, it would not provide a viable passenger train. Even less attractive was the option of running it (or 'hiding it behind') a Mk 1 brake coach. On the other hand, there was no possibility of a vintage brake carriage becoming available within the foreseeable future.
The sketch that launched the project
Out of this dilemma arose the solution of converting an otherwise unused vehicle that had started life as a goods brake van. This offered a number of benefits.
(1) Conversion would be relatively inexpensive.
(2) The conversion could include the ability to accommodate wheelchairs, giving wider access to the railway's Vintage Train.
(3) Most significantly, it would be available with the completed Taff Vale No 73.
The conversion is intended to convey the spirit of a 19th centuary vehicle once common on smaller railways. The style is that of builders of the time, such as Ashbury's, thereby in keeping with the lines of Taff Vale No 73. As well as disabled access, the vehicle will offer an interpretation of the range of traffic carried on rural railway backwaters before Grouping.
This shows the passenger-stock standards being used on the interior - this is the now-enclosed veranda
As you will see at the top of this page, the vehicle is virtually completed. Final tasks will be carried out in the shed at Hayes Knoll,with the possibility of its entering service in 2019.
As at October 2018 Completing 422 has taken longer than expected, partly because of complications in the engineering, some existing faults had to be rectified, and partly because safety issues had to be addressed. All mechanical work is now complete, equipment that is essential to its use as a brake vehicle is now installed and we await final certification as Fit To Run. Unfortunately, because it has been stored outside, some of the external panels are deteriorating and we will have some remedial bodywork to do, though this won’t affect its ability to carry passengers.